[03/19/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 19
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

Looking to keep track of all the various pilots and other projects in development? Be sure to check out our detailed production chart listings by clicking here.

30 DAYS (FX, New!) - Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me") has scored a pilot commitment from the cable channel for a new one-hour documentary series that plants an individual for 30 days in a completely different lifestyle, whether religious, economic or ethnic. The news marks John Landgraf's first pilot order since taking over the entertainment reigns of the network. Spurlock, who will have an on-air role as host in the pilot, says possible storylines include a wealthy person would discover what it's like to be poor, or a prosecutor would try a 30-day prison sentence. He'll executive produce the project via his The Con production banner along with Ben Silverman, H.T. Owens and Mark Koops of Reveille Entertainment ("The Restaurant"). Also as part of the pact, Spurlock will get a blind script commitment from FX for a potential scripted series. FX is believed to have been involved in a bidding war for the project with at least one other broadcast network.

ALIAS (ABC) - According to published schedules, the show's April 11 broadcast will air one hour later than usual, at 10:00/9:00c, in order to make room for the ABC special "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour."

BIG LOVE (HBO) - Jeanne Tripplehorn ("Word of Honor") and Ginnifer Goodwin ("Ed") are set to round out the principal roles in the pay channel's drama pilot, about a polygamist (Bill Paxton) and his relationship with his three wives. Tripplehorn and Goodwin along with the previously cast Chloe Sevigny will play the wives of Paxton's character. Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are behind the project, which will be directed by Rodrigo Garcia from a script by creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer.

CELEBRITY POKER SHOWDOWN (Bravo) - Dave Foley will succeed Kevin Pollack as host of the show's second season, set to debut this spring. Phil Gordon, who provided color commentary during the inaugural season, however will return. According to an NBC press release, "The second season of 'Celebrity Poker Showdown' will be much like the first, however it will consist of two separate tournaments of twenty-five celebrities. Each week, five stars of television, film, music and sports will compete against each other for a piece of the $250,000 prize pool in a game of No Limit Texas Hold'em poker for the charity of their choice." In total, 12 expanded two-hour episodes will be produced for the new season. 1.7 million total viewers (1.66 household rating, more than one million of which fell into the adults 25-54 demographic) watched the show's two-hour first season finale in January.

THE DANA & JULIA SHOW (WB) - Nick Swardson ("Malibu's Most Wanted") has been added to the cast of its network's comedy pilot, which is described as a modern-day "Laverne & Shirley" with Dana Goodman and Julia Wolov in the lead roles. Swardson will play Dana's brother in the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and Happy Madison Productions.

DR. VEGAS (CBS) - Amy Adams ("Catch Me If You Can") is set to star opposite Rob Lowe is the drama pilot, about a young, unconventional doctor (Lowe) who lives and works in an old-school, Palms-like hotel-casino in Las Vegas. She'll play a nurse that works with Lowe's character in the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television, CBS Productions and Bender-Brown Productions.

FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has scheduled its five-part mini-series to debut on Monday, June 7. Here's how Sci Fi's press materials describe the project: "College physics professor J.T. Neumeyer (Academy Award-winner Timothy Hutton) finds a mysterious briefcase containing a police file filled with details of a gruesome murder � his own. The file, complete with photos of his bullet-strewn corpse and a list of suspects, indicates the shooting will take place in five days. Though skeptical at first, when events begin to mirror those in the report, J.T. realizes the file is real and that his time is quickly running out. He has only days to solve the mystery of his own murder � and hopefully change the course of the future. Nicole de Boer (The Dead Zone) and Randy Quaid (Independence Day) co-star."

THE FURST FAMILY (ABC) - Laurie Metcalf ("Roseanne") in talks to join while Brenda Vaccaro ("Just Desserts") and Kyle Howard ("Run of the House") are set in the cast of the comedy pilot, a topical comedy from the point of view of a blue-collar family. Metcalf would play the mom, while Vaccaro will play the grandmother, who is married to a younger man (the previously cast French Stewart). Howard's role wasn't specified in the Touchstone Television/Granada Television project, which comes from Alan Zweibel.

HOT MOMMA (ABC) - Gina Gershon ("Snoops") is set as the lead role in the comedy pilot, about a free-spirited, New York-based wedding planner (Gershon) who leads a wilder lifestyle than her kid. The project is loosely based on the life of creator Suzanne Martin, who was inspired by her life as the cool mother of a conservative teenage daughter. Sitcom veteran Andy Ackerman will direct the Warner Bros. Television project from a script by Martin.

INK'D (A&E, New!) - Fox TV Studios and Typhoon Entertainment are developing a new one-hour reality series at the cable channel that tracks party promoter John Huntington as he opens Heart and Huntington, the self-described first-ever tattoo parlor in a Las Vegas casino. Huntington will executive produce the project along with Fox TV's Gary Shapiro and Typhoon's Jeff Bowler, Gregg Backer and Bill MacDonald.

JOEY (NBC) - Paulo Costanzo ("40 Days and 40 Nights") has joined the cast of the "Friends" spin-off, where he'll play Michael, the twentysomething nephew of Matt LeBlanc's character. "Joey" centers on the now Los Angeles-based Joey Tribbiani (LeBlanc), his hairdresser sister Gina and her 21-year old son, a socially awkward but book-smart grad student. Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Kevin S. Bright are behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television.

MARRIED TO THE KELLYS (ABC) - The Alphabet has announced it will broadcast the show's final two episodes this season on Friday, April 16 ("The Good Son-in-Law") and Friday, April 23 ("Kansas v. Tom's Parents"), both at 9:30/8:30c.

REDEMPTION: THE STAN 'TOOKIE' WILLIAMS STORY (FX) - The network's biopic of Stan "Tookie" Williams is now scheduled to air April 11 at 8:00/7:00c, one week later than previously announced (read the story).

SWEDEN, OHIO (FOX) - Swedish model Helena Mattsson has been cast in the comedy pilot, about a teen boy whose life changes when a sexy Swedish female exchange student (Mattsson) moves in. Mattsson's involvement lifts the cast-contingency on the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and creators Bill Fritz and Kurt Voelker.

UNTITLED JESSICA SIMPSON PROJECT (ABC) - Gregory Harrison ("Safe Harbor") and Bryan Callen ("Inside Schwartz") are the latest to join the cast of the pilot, an ensemble comedy starring Simpson as an on-air reporter of a TV newsmagazine. Harrison will play Brett Harte, the program's anchor, while Callen is set as Dan Hall in the Touchstone Television/Ted Harbert Productions project, which also stars Aimee Garcia, Ali Hillis, Brad Rowe and Johnathan McClain.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2004]  

· 30 DAYS (FX)
· ED (NBC)

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